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Interview on the new direction of cbs Global Trade Services

Since the beginning of the year, Carolin Geiß has been responsible for Global Trade Services (GTS) in Germany as Consulting Director, while Thomas Marx is driving internationalization as Global Business Unit Lead. In this interview, they provide insights into the future of the cbs GTS division.

Geiß_Carolin_quad

How has the cbs Global Trade Services (GTS) division evolved and what is changing now?

Thomas Marx: cbs has been focusing on foreign trade and compliance since 2005. We have grown from a two-man team to a group of more than 30 people who are exclusively dedicated to GTS projects and GTS inquiries all year round. We have already realized more than 200 implementations supporting large-scale projects for group companies for many years, as well as providing support for individual issues, such as our “Expert on Demand” service.

We want to strengthen the growth of GTS further, as it goes hand in hand with the international growth of cbs. This is why we have created country responsibilities and my colleague, Carolin Geiß, has been responsible for Germany as Consulting Director since January 1, 2024.

Carolin Geiß: Specifically, this means that I am responsible for the projects and programs, development and expansion of our expertise, for our employees and the strategic direction in the powerhouse. Thomas oversees internationalization.  

What industries and markets do you focus on strategically?

Thomas Marx: We work across all industries and have also formed our own industry clusters. For example, we are leaders in the mobility sector (land/sea/air), in life science/health care and in B2B engineering.

We gather the experience we have gained and the requirements we have collected, summarize them in our GTS development library and carry them from door to door in the industry, so to speak. We also have a good and regular exchange with SAP.  

The topic of internationalization is now moving more into our focus and is part of the strategic orientation of GTS. Of course, Germany is still very much on the agenda, as many of our customers have their IT department and/or headquarters here. In addition, we will also focus more intensively on Switzerland, Spain, China and the United States. As Global Business Unit Lead, I will be responsible for this Global GTS team and its further expansion with immediate effect.  

This requires trained experts, ideally with the relevant market and language skills. How are you positioned here?

Thomas Marx: Thanks to our internal training program, the GTS Academy, and the high level of loyalty in the team, we have many employees who have been part of our growth from the very beginning. From hour 0 to today. This allows us to enter the national markets with experienced managers and proven specialists. They usually also bring the language and cultural skills for these countries with them.

„Thanks to our internal training program, the GTS Academy, and the high level of loyalty in the team, we have many employees who have been part of our growth from the very beginning.“
Thomas Marx
Consulting Director

Our managers, I am delighted to say, are all home-grown, so to speak. We have many colleagues who have followed the same paths or have had similar project experiences. So, I’m delighted that Carolin Geiß is now taking over Germany and, with Germany, the GTS core team. We see this as the engine of our future activities.

This guarantees stability – everything remains as it was in a positive sense – and gives me the opportunity to concentrate on the new task with the country managers.

How is the GTS division structured in terms of personnel and organization?

Thomas Marx: In organizational terms, we are divided into specialist groups that cover our four services. We also have a management level that oversees the quality of our delivery and the quality of our projects. This gives us the opportunity to quickly familiarize ourselves with new or unfamiliar topics because the basic structure and preliminary work is already clearly documented. This is the technical groundwork for expansion.

This core team will be led by Carolin in future. She will be responsible for ensuring that the appropriate level of training and the next generation of consultants are maintained and can support the expansion. This means that we can deliver and operate at a high level of quality. By adapting the management, we are maintaining this stability and enabling the global “leap” into the world.

Keyword junior staff and GTS Academy. What are the specific plans here?

Carolin Geiß: The GTS Academy is a valuable initiative that I myself took part in as a young consultant. It was originally launched by Thomas because it was difficult to find experienced GTS experts on the market back then, just as it still is today. So, we set up an in-house training program, both from a professional and IT perspective.

I started as a trainee at cbs. I was interested in GTS, so I chose this additional training, as did some of my colleagues who are still with cbs today. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun.

We have developed this concept further so that our customers can also book the GTS Academy. The next start date in 2024 is in September. The Academy always starts twice a year, in March and September.

There is now also the GTS edition for SAP HANA, what does this mean for your unit?

Carolin Geiß: Companies must have moved from GTS 11 to SAP GTS edition for HANA by December 31, 2015. This is a gargantuan task, especially since there are over 4,000 GTS-using companies in the world, but very few good GTS consultancies.

This gives us a strong tailwind. We want to speak openly about this. Thanks to this upgrade, the volume of orders is very favorable, and we can support the expansion into the national markets with this momentum.

In other words, the tried and tested will be retained: customers will receive the usual quality and service. Is it “only” the internal focus that is changing?

Thomas Marx: That’s the case for the moment. But we have a lot planned. Many people will already have noticed that we are now communicating even more actively on the market. With Sarah Schäfer-Rachor, we have someone who supports us in our external presentation and helps to make us even better known.

This is not only important in the DACH market, where we already have a well-established GTS community, but also for the international market. If experience is gained there, it can of course be fed back to us. If we need people who can advise on customs clearance in China or export controls in the USA, for example, then we have them. We also have a much larger network because we also work with partners in these markets. The usual GTS quality is therefore retained, but we are expanding our spectrum.

Very exciting! Thank you Thomas, thank you Carolin! And good luck in your new roles!

Branchen: GTS